Editors Note


Volume 4, Week 36

Editors Note

Brilliant!     The 2005 rugby season has almost seen its proverbial with both South Africa and New Zealand crowning their respective domestic champions the past weekend. What remain is the usual money spinning end of year tours and then, thankfully a well deserved rest from the great game.

Saturday morning (SA time) Canterbury caned Wellington in a match very much reminiscent of a Super 12 outing between the two teams’ big brother franchises. Canterbury, as is their want, produced a composed and professional performance where their impressive forwards, ably led by Richie McCaw, dominated possession and squeezed the life out of the opposition. The dangerous Wellington runners were well contained and only managed a bit of space in the final minutes with some marvelous tries by Umaga and Bobo. It was a good game to watch though and set a wonderful scene for the Currie Cup final later in the day.

The Blue Bulls confirmed their championship mettle and bagged a remarkable 3rd victory in a row over a game Cheetah side. The match was not a great one but by no means poor. There were some excellent tries, a few big hits and even a tear or two in the beginning when that great Springbok, Rassie Erasmus’ emotion ran over. 

The Bulls thoroughly deserved their victory and in the beginning it was a few Cheetahs mistakes that were their undoing but they can be very proud with the way they hung in there and never gave up. Most of the tries were touch and go situations and the TMO had to make more decisions than an air traffic controller. 

In the end, few supporters will begrudge the Bulls their success; there was a time, only a few years ago that they were the laughing stock of SA rugby, kinda like the Sharks at the moment…. Weaknesses however were identified, a good coach was employed and given opportunity to grow and install a wonderfully professional culture and structure. By the by, the Blue Bulls u/20 side was crowned champions as well so one can argue, successfully, that they are the ‘blue’ print for SA provincial rugby. 

Later on Saturday evening, Brian van Rooyen announced the touring team to the British Isles and Argentina and phew what a palaver! As with all Springbok team announcements, it was met with a huge amount of comment, mostly criticism. As usual all and sundry discussed the team and its composition in minute detail but the biggest whoa surrounded the names of players included and of course, those not read out. What to make of it all?

To be honest, a few players are complete unknowns to this armchair selector, who watches an unhealthy amount of rugby one might add… No problem with that, the bulk of the Tri Nations winning squad, bar injuries are there and will probably play in the tests. Jake White has been reasonably clear that a BA boarding pass does not transfer automatically into a test cap meaning these guys are there to learn and be exposed to the national squad's culture. He has been reasonably spot on with his selection choices so far this year and deserves a vote of confidence.

What this critic does have a problem with is, why are these ‘unknowns’ and ‘surprises’ not playing Currie Cup rugby or in the Super 12 but yet make the Springbok team? How come they are good enough for the green and gold but not for the Blue Bulls, Sharks, WP or the Lions? How can coaches and selectors have such fundamental differences in opinion of players’ abilities?

The answer is not an easy one and delving further continues the political debate on transformation, equal opportunities and representation that has been raging all week. It also points toward a vehemently denied SA Rugby agenda of promoting black players with potential to the national team. Jake White is a keen talent spotter and if he and his selectors believe players have the potential to play for the Springboks then fine, say so. Transformation and equal opportunity is a fact for all living in t his country, it is not necessary to sell reality as meritocracy. 

Supporters will be a lot more lenient when clarification is truthful and forthcoming. One thing is certain, provincial coaches are doing the Springboks no favours by not selecting more players of colour who are potentially good enough to play for their country. More needs to be done. Nuff said.

This supporter is looking forward to seeing Ashwin Willemse back, hopefully he is not being pushed too early although the same was thought of Big Joe and the inclusion of Juan Smith and Danie Rossouw is well deserved. Scrumhalf is a problem, as Michael Claassens looked a bit undercooked in the final – hopefully Fourie du Preez’s injury scare remains a scare and that he will last 5 tests on the trot. Bobo's inclusion is a surprise as he was woeful in the Currie Cup and maybe would have been a better choice on the SA A tour to Argentina and be replaced by an extra recognised scrummie like Norman Jordaan or hooker like Gary Botha. 

Two weeks to go before the first test in Cardiff, unfortunately this writer will not make the trip up to the UK however Desmond Organ will be live on the scene to provide RF’s readers with first hand information on the Springboks and their attempt at the grand slam. Enjoy a relaxing weekend away from rugby mine will be on the golf course….



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R.I.P. 2 by Desmond Organ

At the beginning of the year I wrote a piece entitled R.I.P. to highlight my frustration with the continued bungling that was going on in SARFU, several months later I am privileged enough to be able to render a second installment highlighting the so-called end of quotas in the make up of representative teams in South African rugby and to bring it to the attention of supporters of the game who reside in and out of South Africa and who have the opportunity to discern for themselves whether quotas have disappeared and been replaced by “transformation”.

It is a universally accepted fact that the failure of previous administrations in South Africa to provide equal opportunities to all people resulted in the isolation of all representative sports teams. Ten years of freedom in South Africa have not brought about the dramatic changes that many members of the country would have expected, however in those institutions that have a public presence there has indeed been dramatic change to their make up. Companies, sports teams and social organizations have all had to develop a more representative make up, those that have not yet done so face isolation from within their own country.

The announcement of the Springbok team to tour the United Kingdom has raised a furious response from many quarters and specifically those that feel that they are the victim of reverse discrimination. This has unfortunately been complicated by reporters, journalists and administrators making the most basic of human errors; that being their inability to tell the public the truth. Some people have gone as far as accusing people of lying and have had to retract such comments in a hasty manner, probably i n fear of being ostracized and excluded from their means of income. You would be hard pressed to find many people still inside the country who would feel complete liberty to speak their minds and the fact that they are legally allowed to is, irrelevant. It would be a huge injustice to a person just named in the touring squad to be told that he was in fact not chosen on merit alone, but then again all things in life are not equal.

Focusing on individuals only undermines their position even further and it must be said that if it is the intention of rugby administrators to fast track individuals so that the public image is acceptable then so be it, just don’t make the mistake of trying to convince people that the team in made up of the 30 best current players available. The reality is that the mismanagement of transformation in the past has now made it impossible to make such a statement. Too many times in the past their have be en players who have been fast tracked into being ball boys and this has made any selection that is misunderstood even harder to defend. Sports organizations and committees on transformation do themselves no favors by making references to the fact that the majority of the Tri Nations squad is still in place. This is not respectful to the people that have been selected or the people that have been excluded.

Human beings make mistakes but doing so publicly puts you in the frames of the cynical supporter who likes nothing more than to complain about something controversial. The real focus should be on the fact that the squad selected has left some glaring risk areas, particularly at scrumhalf and hooker and with far too many loose forwards to accommodate all in a playing capacity. If the team is victorious on the Grand Slam tour I can just see the politicians using this to defend their initial comments ab out the merits of the selection process. It is a simple fact that South Africa is dealing with complex issues of transformation and the fact that we have had success in the past is a credit to the talent scouts, coaches and players themselves. It is sad that players who are excluded have in some manner or form raised their frustration with the national coach only to be told that “that’s life” is not the brightest thing that has ever been said, but then again you are judged on your results.

The team is actually a good reflection of what is available to the selectors, but a press statement at the beginning of the new administration to the effect that future teams would be selected to provide the best opportunity to win matches and also to identify potential opportunities to fast track people of talent would have been the answer that many people were looking for. Instead of that, we have a situation where the complaints at a Provincial level have been escalated to the National level and w ith it the bitter taste of disappointment at another opportunity lost in the transformation area.

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They certainly take us a lot more seriously. We will be targeted because of our new status as Tri-Nations champions.     Jake white

Well, those compulsory two-hour lunch breaks, they really take their toll.       Dean Richard on his post as coach of Grenoble in France where a 35 hour working week is compulsory....

I'm not the greatest Bulls supporter ever, and I honestly want Free State to win, but I can't see it happening. There will be a great battle upfront, especially with the likes of Os and CJ van der Linde. I reckon the score will be 34-26 to the Bulls, but I really don't want them to win!        Johann Muller from the Sharks

Records don't win Currie Cup Finals. It's what you do on the day that counts and there is every possibility that Free State could put together the better performance.       Johan Heunis

Fellows, hit and kick if you must but in heaven's name stop the blasphemy!      George Daneel in a test against Wales in 1931

Being a new cap on tour doesn't mean they're going to run on and play. It is also an opportunity for coaches to work with these players and see what we have in them.       Jake White

I don't know what else to do.      Ettienne Botha about his exclusion from the Springbok squad

We won the Currie Cup the third consecutive year on Saturday, lost just one match this season, but we have just five representatives in the Bok squad.      Dolf van Huysteen

I choose not to get involved in the way in which national teams are put together. It is the right of the Bok coach and the national selectors to choose whom they want, just as I as a provincial coach do not want to be told how to compile my team.       Heyneke Meyer

If New Zealand's endangered species were to be updated today, tt would be a fair bet that that Andrew Mehrtens would become the most recent addition, to be ranked right up there with the Kakapo and the Yellow-eyed Penguin.      Richard Boock (as quoted in Patrick on Rugby)

Clive Woodward would call his 26 strong Lions Management team, the ultimate collection of the Home Nations great rugby minds. I call it ridiculous and a complete waste of money.      Colin Meads (as quoted in Patrick on Rugby)

I want to ask the public not to get confused with transformation and quotas.        Brian van Rooyen

I am not a racist, but I feel that there is too much politics in South African rugby. I want to be able to pick the team on merit.    Uli Schmidt after resigning the post of Falcons coach within 2 weeks of his appointment

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Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas

Nogal interessant hoe verlede naweek se halfeindstryd tussen WP en Vrystaat my herinner het aan die 
Curriebeker-eindstryd van 1976.

Ten spyte van 'n paar dramatiese gebeure in die week voor die eindstryd - soos die verlies van 
kaptein Morné du Plessis weens 'n besering - het ons as WP-ondersteuners die lang pad aangepak 
Bloemfontein toe. Met die eerste afskop het die Vrystaatse voorspelers die WP tot diep binne hul 
kwartgebied gedryf, dat die voorhoedes eintlik verdwyn het in 'n kollosale stofwolk. Net daar het 
ek so 'n gevoel uit my diepste binneste gekry dat dit nie WP se dag sou wees nie. Dis natuurlik 
geskiedenis dat 1976 die enigste jaar tot nog toe was waarin die Vrystaters vonkelwyn uit die 
Curriebeker kon drink.

Verlede Saterdag, toe Willem de Waal daardie eerste strafskop vanuit sy eie halfgebied op 'n swaar 
Nuweland deur die pale klits, het ek daardie selfde gevoel as destyds gekry... en sowaar, dit was 
weer nie WP se dag nie.

So teleurgesteld en hartseer as wat WP-ondersteuners oor ons span se uitskakeling is, net soveel 
gun ons die Vrystaters 'n tweede Curriebeker-sege. Hulle het al so naby gekom (o.a. in 1997 teen 
einste WP), het oor die jare soveel beteken vir SA rugby, speel 'n styl wat ons na aan die hart lê 
en toon soveel moed na hul elke jaar van ster-spelers gestroop word, dat hulle die respek van alle 
rugbyliefhebbers terdeë verdien.

Ek hoop net nie die oomblik is te groot vir hulle Saterdag nie...

Colin van Rensburg

Goeiedag Lucas

Baie dankie aan al die spanne vir 'n briljante Curriebekerseisoen. Die beste wat ons rugbymal-landjie in jare gehad het. Baie geluk aan die Blou Bulle wat ware kampioene is, julle het dit verdien. Vrystaat moet lof kry 
vir die wyse waarop hulle die spel na die Bulle toe geneem het, en nie 'n tree agteruit gestaan het nie. 

Was dit egter nodig dat die aankondiging van die Springbokspan alles moes bederf ? Bestaan die kwotastelsel nog ? En indien wel, dan moet SARFU nou hulle bekke oopmaak en dit so stel. Hierdie span is die droom 'n absurde politieke gemors. van Rooyen en sy klomp ringkoppe is stadig maar seker besig om rugby in 'n absolute sirkus te laat ontaard. In kort, jy hoef nie die land se beste speler te wees om in die Springbokspan opgeneem te word nie, jy moet net nie wit wees nie. Wat het o.a. Shimange en Bobo gedoen om hul plekke te verdien ? 

Dan praat ek nie eers van die ander nie. Wat het Ettienne en Gary Botha gedoen om oor die hoof gesien te word ? Is dit omdat Gary 'n bedreiging vir die Springbokkaptein is, en dan sien Jake hy was verkeerd ? Wat het Anton Leonard die afgelope drie seisoene gedoen wat verkeerd is ? Seker omdat sy hare grys is. 

Jaco en Percy, wat nie hier wil rugby speel nie word verkies bo ons plaaslike manne. Manne wat jaar-in en jaar-uit lojaal is teen SA Rugby word in die gesig geklap deur hierdie optrede. Ek is oortuig daar is baie meer talent as sekere keuses in die span. Vir daai spelers wat nie raakgesien MAG word nie, my meegevoel, en dankie dat julle steeds bereid is om julle rugby HIER te speel. 

Nee wat Jake, vat maar jou mede-keurders en SARVU, en vlieg in julle maai. Haal die Springbok van die trui 
af, dit het 'n bespotting geword...vervang dit maar met die Protea. 

Mag regverdigheid, geregtigheid en die Springbok rus in vrede, want sulke goed is daar nie meer in hierdie land nie. 

Das Villoen

Goeiedag Lucas

Ek lees Jakes White is teleurgesteld oor die feit dat baie rugby liefhebbers nie tevrede is met van sy keuses vir die Bokspan nie, veral dié van Gcobani Bobo bo Etienne Botha en Hanyani Shimange bo Gary Botha. Jake.... Wat verwag jy ? Moenie doen wat baie van jou voorgangers gedoen het nie. Alle rugby ondersteuners is nie pampoene nie. Die meeste ken darem die verskil tussen perdemis en vye. Moenie vir hulle probeer oortuig dat perdemis ook aan 'n boom groei nie. 

Bobo en Shimange, onder andere, is nie daar oor hul spel vaardighede nie. Jy weet dit net so goed soos die oorgrote meerderheid mense wat graag wil sien dat die beste speler die Boktrui oor sy kop trek. Soos Errol Tobias nie die beste speler was toe hy destyds bo Jannie Els verkies is nie, so is dit nou weer die geval met die twee Bothas. Errol Tobias het later jare wel die Boktrui verdien, maar nie op die stadium toe hy dit pasella gegee is nie. Jannie Els het ongelukkig nooit die erkenning gekry wat hy verdien het nie. Moet dit asseblief nie ook aan Etienne Botha en Gary Botha doen nie.

Jake White en die Bokke het vanjaar briljant begin met die Drie Nasies. Hoop en vertrou hulle bou daarop voort ten spyte van die albatros, kwotas, om die nek. 

Groete uit Kiwiland 

Jakes Jacobson 

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